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CAIRNS, Australia: Holloways Beach resident Lisa Methven watches the storm across the Coral Sea as Cyclone Jasper approaches landfall in Cairns in far north Queensland on December 13, 2023.--AFP
CAIRNS, Australia: Holloways Beach resident Lisa Methven watches the storm across the Coral Sea as Cyclone Jasper approaches landfall in Cairns in far north Queensland on December 13, 2023.--AFP
Australian disaster crews tally damage from Cyclone Jasper

CAIRNS, Australia: Disaster-response teams fanned out across northeastern Australia on Thursday, counting the cost of a tropical cyclone that flooded major highways, uprooted trees, and left 40,000 without power. Coastal regions were battered by damaging winds and swamped by flooded rivers as Tropical Cyclone Jasper barrelled in off the Coral Sea on Wednesday evening.

Although the storm was running out of steam by Thursday morning, government meteorologists warned it was still whipping up “intense rainfall and damaging wind gusts”. “This is an evolving situation because the rainfall has not stopped yet and is likely to continue well into today and this evening,” forecaster Laura Boekel told reporters. “If we see this fall in a short period... that’s when we can see that dangerous and very life-threatening flash flooding.”

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said chainsaw-wielding disaster response crews had been despatched to clear major roads clogged by fallen trees and downed powerlines.

State treasurer Cameron Dick said 40,000 homes and businesses remained without electricity on Thursday morning, including 25,000 in the resort city of Cairns. Floodwaters inundated the rural town of Mossman around midnight Wednesday after a swollen river burst its banks—forcing a small number of evacuations. Queensland state disaster coordinator Shane Chelepy told reporters there had been “no serious injuries or loss of life” reported in the wake of the cyclone.

Rough surf, strong winds and heavy rain pelted the seaside town of Palm Cove, where usually bustling restaurants and high-end hotels battened down the hatches and waited for the storm to pass. Uprooted vegetation littered the town’s coastal promenade and rows of coconut palms and melaleuca trees bowed under the strain of Jasper’s gusts. –AFP


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